World Champion Nellie Miller believes rodeo life is the best life.

Rodeo is very different for me now than it was eight years ago. There have been a lot of changes in my life, including a husband and two little girls. I had to figure out how to rodeo for a family instead of for myself. Although it was more difficult, it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened—not only for me, but my whole family.

As a mom you question every decision you make for your family, wondering if it is the right thing to do and how it will affect everyone. For me, one of those hard decisions was to take the plunge and rodeo again. This meant leaving home for months at a time and taking a big risk financially. I knew I had an opportunity with a good horse, but the future was still unknown. My husband and I talked until we were blue in the face about whether or not it was the right thing to do. Ultimately, we decided to commit to rodeo and figure the rest out later.

The question I get a lot is, “Oh my gosh, how do you rodeo with little kids?” The answer is very simple; I have a lot of help.

Luckily, once I made the decision to rodeo, everyone in my family got on board and did everything to make it happen. My kids are small, so they went with me to most of the rodeos. My mom and my husband would take turns going with us to help with the kids, and family at home would take care of things while we were gone. It is definitely a different dynamic than rodeoing by yourself, but it turned out to be really special for my whole family.

With each rodeo we went to, the kids got a whole new experience. They have done and seen things some adults will probably never get to do. The further we got into it, the more I realized how good it was not only for them to be out there experiencing different things, but to see their mom doing something really cool. I think the best thing you can do for your kids is to be a good role model, and that’s what I feel I am giving them every time we go to a rodeo.

My kids get to see me doing something I am good at, and it is a different perception than being the mom at home who argues with them about eating their vegetables. It has been a very positive part of this journey because when I am running barrels, for a little while I am not their mom but their hero. Nothing is better than seeing their faces when I get done with a run. Win or lose, they think I am the greatest person on earth for just doing what I am good at. My hope is that they see me doing something great and realize they can do great things, too.

Sometimes leaving and taking the plunge is the hardest part. This is what I think every time I have to pack the trailer for a big trip. Sometimes I still question if all the chaos is worth it. Sometimes it seems easier to stay home, but easier doesn’t mean better. For my family and me, life is better at a rodeo. It might be busy, messy and unorganized, but that’s OK because I find my peace when I swing a leg over my horse.

This article was originally published in the April 2018 issue of Barrel Horse News.


Nellie Miller is the 2017 WPRA World Champion and rode her home-raised and -trained 11-year-old mare Rafter W Minnie Reba (KS Cash N Fame x Espuela Roan x Blue Light Ike) - affectionately known as "Sister" - to the title. Miller has amassed $625,517 in Equi-Stat recording lifetime earnings. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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